GCH’s engagement at the 55th session of the UN Human Rights Council: Local and regional governments’ voice strengthened

During the 55th session of the UN Human Rights Council, we focused on supporting States on a Joint statement on local governments and human rights and on addressing critical issues for Local and Regional Governments (LRGs), such as the rights to adequate housing and to a healthy environment. Our aim was to amplify their voices in the main UN intergovernmental body for human rights.

  • The Human Rights Council (HRC) is the principal UN intergovernmental body responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing situations of human rights violations. It holds three regular sessions per year, i.e. 55th, 56th and 57th sessions in 2024.
  • Many of the matters addressed by the HRC are of significant relevance for LRGs as they often require various measures such as legislative, budgetary, administrative, promotional, educational, and others to fulfil their State’s international obligations to promote and protect human rights.
  • It is therefore criticial for LRGs to actively engage with the human rights agenda and work towards implementing policies and initiatives that uphold and advance human rights within their communities.
GCH’s Objectives at HRC55:
  • The GCH aimed to provide more visibility to LRGs on issues being dealt by the HRC which are of high relevance for LRGs. At the 55th session in particular, the GCH focused on enhanced participation of LRGs in the work of the HRC, the protection of the environment, as well as (adequate) housing affordability and homelessness.
Concrete GCH actions:
  • One of our key contributions was supporting States in drafting a Joint statement on local governments and human rights. Learn more here and see the whole text of the Joint statement.
  • The GCH also moderated an event co-organized by Brazil, Finland, Germany and Namibia to address the interlinked issues of housing (un)affordability and homelessness, both very topical for LRGs.  Find out more here. In this context we salute the so called “housing resolution”, adopted under the leadership of the above-mentioned  States which contains, for the 1st time, strong references to the role of LRGs in the area of housing and encourages central governments and UN system agencies to work with LRGs, see the whole text of the resolution here, in particular paragraphs : OP1 (t) and OP2 (b).
  • Additionally, we emphasized the impact of Investor-State dispute settlement on LRGs and highlighted the importance of collaboration between investors and LRGs to address human rights and environmental needs, during the landmark event based on the report (A/78/168), co-organised by the GCH, the UN Special Rapporteur and the Geneva Environment Network (GEN). LRGs play a crucial role in implementing investment projects and ensuring compliance with local regulations. By fostering collaboration between investors and LRGs, we can maximize benefits while addressing human rights and environmental concerns at the local level.
  • We also welcome the new iteration of the resolution establishing the right to a healthy environment in relation to human rights, adopted under the leadership of Costa Rica, Maldives, Morocco, Slovenia, Switzerland which encourages the Special Rapporteur to work with LRGs in fulfilling his/her mandate in this area. see the whole text of the resolution here, in particular paragraphs : OP4 (a).

In conclusion, LRGs have much to gain from increased involvement in the work of the Human Rights Council. The Global Cities Hub is committed to supporting LRGs in engaging with the Council, including the Universal Periodic Review. Find out more here.

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